History of the RIT Mascot

Prior to 1955, athletic teams referred to themselves as The Techmen or The Blue Grey. However, when RIT's basketball team went undefeated in 1955, Harry Watts, head of the RIT News Bureau, met with several RIT lettermen and decided to use the nickname Tigers in an effort to better personify the basketball team and RIT athletics.

The RIT Tiger Committee was formed in 1963 to maintain the mascot of the University, manage the use and display of said mascot, and secure and distribute the funds needed for the management. The Committee purchased a two-month old Bengal tiger for $1,000, which was financed by $1 shares sold to students, faculty, and staff.

Spirit was flown in from Dallas, Texas, and received the nickname Flying Tiger. While still a cub, Spirit was brought to many RIT athletic events.

In the spring of 1963, Spirit was moved to the Seneca Park Zoo. A year and a half later, X-rays showed he was suffering from pelvic and leg joint problems. Spirit was euthanized on September 28, 1964. The Seneca Park Zoo and RIT purchased another cub in honor of Spirit and named him Spirit II.

The student-commissioned Bengal tiger statue across from the Eastman Quad was dedicated on November 10, 1989. The tiger's sculptor, Duff Wehle, stated at the dedication ceremony: Through joint efforts of these people-foundry craftsmen color artists-we have provided a bronze statue of RIT's mascot. Now it is up to all of you here at RIT to breathe life into it.

You can view photos and listen to interviews at Spirit's home page.

History of RITchie

On November 10, 1989, sculptor Duff Wehle unveiled the Bronzed Bengal Tiger Statue located on the Quarter Mile. Read more ››

RITchie Finds His Stripes

Author Rick Mislan was walking on the RIT campus again with his two daughters in 2012 when he suggested that RITchie needed a book. Read more ››